Side x Side was born in 2011 as a grassroots, scrappy project when our founder, Beth Wilbur Van Mierlo noticed that some students at her children’s school were struggling. She partnered with another parent to facilitate a creative project to engage students and help them to tell their stories, called “Threads: The Ties that Bind Us.” And in building and facilitating this project, Beth witnessed the transformative power in giving students a new way to learn and engage. From there, there was no stopping the momentum of this movement.
The non-profit was formed in 2013 and in that year, Side x Side received $1.9 million in grant funding from the Department of Education to roll out Arts Integrated Classroom Programs in the Portland Public Schools. And again, in 2018, we received another $2.5 million in grant funding to continue our work in Maine building programs to have more far-reaching impact.